September 9, 2014
This post will not have my usual whit, because today I saw a historic piece of Germany, which gave me a look into its darkened past.
I started the day a Sachsenhousen Concentration Camp.
Sachsenhousen began as a work camp, not an execution camp. Nevertheless, thousands of people lost their lives there before it was liberated. I saw one of the living quarters. I saw the remnants of the ovens. I saw where the gas chambers once stood. Walking through those hallowed grounds was one of the eeriest moments of my life. I could feel the sadness still clinging to the place, yet somehow it gave me a sense of thankfulness for the freedom I have. I am thankful for my freedom because there were many people who lived their entire lives without ever experiencing such freedom, and now I have had a look into their bondage.
I continued into Berlin for a further look into the past. Today, the city was bustling. It was filled with spirit and welcomed me into its loud chaos just like any large city. But throughout Berlin there is a trail on the ground. It’s two stones thick. It travels throughout the city – across streets, along sidewalks, and through buildings. It marks where the Berlin Wall once stood.
There are also a few sections of the wall still standing for remembrance. I touched it. It was massive. My tour guide said people literally went to bed one night and when they woke up the next morning, the wall stood, dividing the city, preventing them from crossing to the other side.
A visit to the Holocaust Memorial ended the day. It’s a section of Berlin filled with almost 3,000 concrete slabs, meant to memorialize the thousands of people who lost their lives throughout the Holocaust period. Each slab is the same length and width, which symbolizes the horrific deaths suffered by many of the people. They were different in height though, which symbolizes the individual lives of those involved. Standing among them gave me chills.
So my day today was not drilled with tourist excitement, nor was it a glamorous day in Europe, but today was the most eye-opening experience I’ve had on this journey so far.